Industry surveys show that if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load, over 50% of users will terminate the visit. From social media to online shopping, the content we consume on the internet is becoming increasingly personalized, interactive, and dynamic. In this blog post, we are going to talk about how content delivery networks accelerate dynamic content.
Static v.s. Dynamic Content
There are generally two kinds of web content on the internet: static content and dynamic content. If you can still remember, back in the old days of the internet, most websites appear to be the same in front of everyone. Texts, pictures, links and videos won’t change based on your identity, behaviors or location. We call this static content. Nowadays, however, websites and applications leverage advanced analytical engines and AI-based algorithms to make sure each user is viewing personalized and customized content. When you shop in an online store, for example, the recommended items are dynamically displayed based on your browsing history and preferences. We call this type of content dynamic content. In a traditional sense, static content can be cached on an edge node and served close to the users but dynamic content cannot.
How CDN Accelerates Dynamic Content
So, how to make sure dynamic content does not become a bottleneck for website and application performance? What technologies can content delivery networks offer to accelerate the delivery of dynamic content?
In the first place, a CDN is a distributed edge network that can serve content from as close to the users as possible; it typically has a multi-tiered caching architecture within which technologies such as intelligent routing is used to increase content delivery efficiency.
For dynamic content, intelligent routing plays an important role in its acceleration. Specifically, content delivery networks intelligently monitor the running status of the whole distributed network and calculate the best routing for a certain delivery to ensure a faster and more stable connection. True dynamic acceleration optimizes all parts of the route including the first mile (origin to CDN), middle mile (within the CDN cloud), and last-mile (CDN edge to the user).
Another core technology in dynamic acceleration is TCP optimization. TCP is a communication protocol that can be used to connect devices to the internet. While TCP is known for accuracy and reliability, it trades off the speed. So we need to apply optimization technologies onto the transport layers that use TCP protocol to ensure optimal web performance. Advanced TCP optimization technology can help avoid Internet congestion, recover packet loss, and select optimized paths to deliver dynamic content to users.
Once the connection between the origin server and the user is reliably established, pre-fetching can be done to optimize dynamic delivery even more. Prefetching is the loading of a resource before it is required to decrease the time waiting for that resource. With the arrival of HTTP/2, server push is available to send site assets to users before they’ve even asked for them. This helps to effectively accelerate rendering and decrease content loading time.
Nowadays, most web pages are a hybrid of dynamic and static content. Site operators increasingly prefer to deliver the entire site through a CDN to improve performance and to manage key components of each site experience. Whole-site delivery has different flavors at different vendors and differs by the efficiency of identifying static and dynamic content, and whether it applies dynamic acceleration techniques to the dynamic part or simply fetches from the origin.
As you can see, modern services and applications require dynamic content to be effectively and efficiently delivered to a globally distributed audience. To respond to this trend, content delivery service providers are working on edge computing functions, advanced compression techniques, and even new coding languages to increase delivery efficiency. With these technologies coupled with the robust CDN infrastructure in place, companies and organizations will be enabled for more powerful content innovations in the future.
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